Improving elder care in nursing homes

An investigation by the Health Care Inspectorate (IGZ) has shown that the knowledge, skills and availability of care workers in nursing homes are ill-matched to the care needs of residents. That is why the government has presented a plan of action to improve the quality of nursing home care.

Measures to improve nursing home care

The government intends to take measures to improve the quality of nursing home care. 

Quality of nursing home staff

Nursing homes should be staffed by care professionals who take pride in their work and provide compassionate care. Nursing homes should also make sure their staff have the right mix of training and experience and are able to give people the attention they need. Patients should be able to depend on there always being someone around who knows them well. This is laid down in government guidelines for nursing homes. As these guidelines are implemented, starting in 2017, they should result in improved quality of life for nursing home residents.

Professional education and training

Education and training courses must produce care professionals who have the knowledge and skills needed in nursing homes. The health and education ministries are drawing up an action plan to bring education and training more in line with professional practice.

More transparency about quality of care

To increase transparency about the quality of care, reviews by residents and their families will be published on the internet. This can help others when they are choosing a nursing home. From 2017, information will be published on the internet about each nursing home’ s performance, based on indicators like medication safety, communication with the resident and family members, staff qualifications and quality-driven management. This information will be made available on (in Dutch).

Patients to manage their own care and support plans

By 2017 all nursing home residents or their representatives will be in charge of their own care and support plan. This also applies to people with dementia. A care and support plan sets out what care needs must be met in order for the resident to be able to live with dignity. The patient or their representative (informal carer, family member) will have control over the process of drafting the plan.

Improving supervision

The IGZ will more closely supervise homes that provide substandard care.

All the measures in the plan of action are described in the state secretary’s letter to parliament on the quality of elder care (in Dutch).

Background to the improvements to nursing home care

The basic principle of the action plan is that care for elderly people should be compassionate and respectful of their dignity and self-esteem. The plan focuses on the relationship between the patient, the patient’s family and care professionals. The two main reasons for improving care are:

  • The average age at which people move into nursing homes is increasing. Older residents tend to need more intensive and more complex care.
  • In addition, new generations of elderly people have different preferences and expectations of care.

Innovation programme for nursing homes

Many nursing homes want to make changes to the care they provide and the way it is organised. But rules and regulations or the culture of the institution often stand in their way.

That is why the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport is launching an innovation programme for nursing homes. It challenges them to find new ways to deliver patient-centred care. The programme may lead to a new standard for care in the future.